Establishing two hubs for the newly-formed version of LIAT has been suggested as a potential measure to ensure the carrier’s operations are as efficient as possible. CLICK HERE TO JOIN OUR WHATSAPP GROUP FOR NEWS UPDATES.
“I think, based on what has been observed and what we have learned over the past seven to ten years, perhaps the best fit is to have two hubs in the Caribbean for an expanded subregional carrier,” Information Minister Melford Nicholas said yesterday.
Nicholas was asked during the post-Cabinet media briefing whether the Antigua and Barbuda government would be willing to consider relocating LIAT 2020’s primary base to Barbados, as was suggested and explored a couple of years ago with LIAT 1974 Ltd as a move to stabilise the airline’s finances.
Back then, it was proposed that relocating to Barbados would allow the carrier to benefit more from the lucrative southern Caribbean travel market.
“Clearly, when they had moved much of the aircraft into Barbados to make realisation of the natural hub [there], what they had in fact done was to reduce the availability of airlift on the northern side of the Caribbean.
“For example, from Antigua – acting as a hub – to get into the Virgin Islands and even to St Maarten and Puerto Rico as important shopping destinations for persons, or perhaps even getting to the Dominican Republic where there has been a significant traffic flow between residents here who have family, friends and historical ties to [the DR], those markets have not been served well as a result of the movement that took place in the latter stages of LIAT 1974 Ltd,” Nicholas explained
The minister noted that there is a gap in service in the northern Caribbean, also hinting that both Barbados and Antigua and Barbuda could potentially play a major role in the new LIAT going forward.
“It’s clear that there is a market opportunity on the northern side of the Caribbean, which was not served well within the past ten years, in deference to the larger numbers of persons who are moving into the southern Caribbean, especially to include Guyana.
“So, classically, what it does represent is that – for operational efficiency – there ought to be two hubs. Perhaps Barbados would be one and Antigua would be another, to ensure that we can optimally serve all of the interest for movement of persons across the Caribbean in all circumstances,” he said.
The Antigua and Barbuda government is moving ahead with its efforts to build out LIAT 2020, having commenced the recruitment of staff and considering various proposals to maintain efficiency, including the application of minimum revenue guarantees.
These plans have also been boosted after a decision was finally reached by LIAT 1974 Ltd’s shareholding governments – Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Barbados and St Vincent and the Grenadines – to liquidate the long-struggling airline.
Source: Antigua Observer